NCAAB Round of 64 Expert Picks
So what are the experts saying about the field of 64 teams in the 2016 edition of March Madness? Let’s take a look at the advice of the professional prognosticators as you fill out your NCAAB betting bracket.
NCAAB Round of 64 Expert Picks
Ricky O’Donnell, SB Nation:
In the South: Kansas – Cal and Villanova – Arizona in the Sweet Sixteen, with Arizona playing Kansas in the Elite Eight and Kansas winning the region.
In the West: St. Joe’s – Baylor and UNI – Oklahoma in the Sweet 16, with Oklahoma and St. Joe’s in the Elite Eight, and Oklahoma winning the region.
In the East: UNC – Kentucky and West Virginia – Xavier in the Sweet 16, with UNC and West Virginia playing in the Elite Eight, and UNC winning the region.
In the Midwest: Virginia – Purdue and Utah – Michigan State in the Sweet 16, with Michigan State and Virginia in the Elite Eight, and Michigan State winning the region.
So to recap, O’Donnel has two 1-seeds (Kansas and North Carolina) and two 2-seeds (Oklahoma and Michigan State) winning the four regions. That’s pretty by-the-book selecting, especially in a year when the top seeds are not what you would call dominant programs.
Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com:
Instead of going through the brackets, Silver evaluates the round-by-round probability for each team winning, round by round, and then winning the national championship.
An interesting perspective comes from looking at the 1-seeds. He gives Kansas a 19% chance to win it all, then UNC a 15% chance, then Virginia a 10% chance — the top three probabilities in the whole bracket. The next best chance goes to Michigan State (9%). What about the fourth 1-seed (Oregon)? He gives them just a 3% chance to win the whole tournament. He thinks that Purdue, West Virginia, Kentucky, Villanova, Oklahoma and Michigan State all have a better chance than the Ducks, which means that he thinks three 2-seeds, a 3-seed, a 4-seed and a 5-seed all have better chances of winning the title than Oregon.
It’s also interesting to see how he appears to rank the various conferences, at least on the basis of their probabilities of winning. The NCAA selection committee gave the Pac-12 seven berths in the tournament, but none of them have a higher shot than Oregon’s 3%, and the next best Pac-12 team on the list (Arizona) is at 2%, followed by Utah at 0.8%.
Another interesting team is Wichita State, by far the highest 11-seed in his probability list at 0.7%. They only have a 51% chance to get by Vanderbilt in his probability rankings, but if they can do that he feels more optimistic about their chances than a lot of teams that pulled off big wins this year, such as Iowa, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
Even with Kansas, UNC and Virginia controlling about 44% of Silver’s collective probability, there’s a lot of room out there for interlopers. Two of the best teams in the country (Louisville and SMU) aren’t eligible for the tournament, so those are a couple of teams that could have eaten up some more of the uncertainty. All we know this year is that each round will bring some surprises. Doing some research and pushing the luck in your direction will help you maximize your profits.